Thursday, 19 March 2015

Dukes' Kick Start scheme showcases works in progress

They say 'Everyone's a critic' and now here's your chance. The Dukes Kick Start initiative, which begins this April, allows audiences to offer feedback on plays in development.

I Was A Wife is a work in progress by first time writer Polly Lister, an actress who appeared as the witch in The Dukes production of Hansel & Gretel in Williamson Park last summer.

The Connection is a modern-day take on Brief Encounter set at Carnforth Station where the classic film was shot 70 years ago. It’s the work of  Ulverston-based writer Zosia Wand who adapted Hansel & Gretel and had her first play - Quicksand - staged at The Dukes in 2011.

“Original work is central to what we are about,” said Joe Sumsion, artistic director of The Dukes which is Lancashire’s only professional producing theatre.

“We are inviting our audiences to come in and look at the development process we usually go through internally. Their opinions could help us to decide what to do next with each play.”

Polly Lister will read I Was A Wife, a one-woman play based on her own experience of marital breakdown, interpreted through the medium of stage direction, on Thursday 2 April at 7pm. It currently doesn’t have an ending so the audience will be encouraged to suggest options.

The Connection will be read by professional actors on Thursday 16 April at 7.30pm. Its local setting reflects The Dukes' aim of producing plays rooted in the North.

After both rehearsed readings, Joe will lead a relaxed discussion with the writer and audience to gauge opinions.

“One of the things writers have to deal with is feedback,” said Joe. “All opinions will be considered and then I will help the writer decide what to do next.”

This is likely to involve another draft of each play and people from other theatres, including potential co-producers, being invited to give their input. Depending on funding being available, it’s hoped that one of the plays could  be staged at The Dukes possibly as early as next spring.

Every year The Dukes receives around 20 scripts. I Was A Wife and The Connection were chosen to launch Kick Start as Joe felt they were the most exciting prospects. The initiative will continue in the autumn with a further two plays.

Kick Start takes place in The Round and all tickets priced £5/£4 concessions include free tea and coffee.

For more information and to book, ring The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or visit

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